Psychological incapacity

The validity of marriage and the unity of the family are enshrined in our Constitution and statutory laws. Thus, any doubts attending the same are to be resolved in favor of the continuance and validity of the marriage and the burden of proving the nullity of the same rests at all times upon the petitioner. The policy of the Constitution is to protect and strengthen the family as the basic social institution, and marriage as the foundation of the family. Because of this, the Constitution decrees marriage as legally inviolable and protects it from dissolution at the whim of the parties.[1]

Under Article 36[2] of the Family Code, as amended, psychological incapacity is a valid ground to nullify a marriage. However, in deference to the State's policy on marriage, psychological incapacity does not merely pertain to any psychological condition; otherwise, it would be fairly easy to circumvent our laws on marriage so much so that we would be practically condoning a legal subterfuge for divorce.

Based on jurisprudence, psychological incapacity has a specific and peculiar denotation. It ought to pertain to only the most serious cases of personality disorders that clearly demonstrate the party's/parties' utter insensitivity or inability to give meaning and significance to the marriage.[3] It should refer to no less than a mental- not merely physical­ incapacity that causes a party to be truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that concomitantly must be assumed and discharged by the parties to the marriage, which, as provided under Article 68[4] of the Family Code, among others,[5] include their mutual obligations to live together, observe love, respect and fidelity, and render help and support.

The requirements for proving psychological incapacity can be traced in a long line of cases. In Lontoc-Cruz v. Cruz,[6] citing Republic v. De Gracia[7] and Santos v. CA (Santos),[8] the Court emphasized "that psychological incapacity must be characterized by: (a) gravity (i.e., it must be grave and serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in a marriage); (b) juridical antecedence (i.e., it must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage); and (c) incurability (i.e., it must be incurable, or even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved)."[9]

Particularly, in Navales v. Navales,[10] the Court found no factual basis for the husband's claim that his wife, being flirtatious and sexually promiscuous, was psychologically incapacitated, regardless of the submitted psychological report concluding that the wife was a nymphomaniac.[11] Likewise, in Toring v. Toring,[12] the Court emphasized that "irreconcilable differences, sexual infidelity or perversion, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility, and the like, do not by themselves warrant a finding of psychological incapacity, as [these] may only be due to a person's difficulty, refusal, or neglect to undertake the obligations of marriage that is not rooted in some psychological illness that Article 36 of the Family Code addresses."[13] Similarly, the Court rejected as psychological incapacity the emotional immaturity, irresponsibility, sexual promiscuity, and other behavioral disorders invoked by the petitioning spouses in Pesca v. Pesca,[14] Republic v. Encelan,[15] Republic v. De Gracia,[16] and Republic v. Spouses Romero,[17] to name a few, and thus, dismissed their petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage.

In Republic v. Gina Tecag (G.R. No. 229272, November 19, 2018), the findings of the trial court were quite telling as they actually depict the true situation between the parties there -- that they had simply and consciously chosen to give up on their marriage and go their separate ways. Gina herself admitted that she wanted to preserve their marriage, but because she distrusted Marjune owing to his alleged illicit affairs, she has simply become unwilling to work out a solution to keep their marriage and, as a result, has refused to comply with her essential marital obligations. As has oft been reiterated in jurisprudence, psychological incapacity is more than just a "difficulty," "refusal," or "neglect" in the performance of marital obligations. Instead, it is a serious, deep-rooted, and incurable psychological condition that renders the party incapable of complying with - as they are basically incognitive - of these marital obligations.[18]

[1] See Singson v. Singson, G.R. No. 210766, January 8, 2018.

[2] Article 36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

[3] See Republic v. Spouses Romero, 781 Phil. 737, 746 (2016).

[4] Article 68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.

[5] The parties' mutual obligations include those provided under Articles 68 to 71, as regards the husband and wife, and Articles 220, 221 and 225, with regard to parents and their children, all of the Family Code. (See Guideline 6 in Republic v. CA, supra note 24, at 678.

[6] See G.R. No. 201988, October 11, 2017.

[7] 726 Phil. 502, 510 (2014).

[8] 310 Phil. 21, 39 (1995).

[9] Lontoc-Cruz v. Cruz, G.R. No. 201988, October 11, 2017.

[10] 578 Phil. 827 (2008).

[11] See id. at 845.

[12] 640 Phil. 434 (2010).

[13] Id. at 457.

[14] 408 Phil. 713 (2001 ).

[15] 701 Phil. 192 (2013).

[16] 726 Phil. 502, 510 (2014).

[17] Republic v. Spouses Romero, 781 Phil. 737, 746 (2016).

[18] Republic v. Spouses Romero, 781 Phil. 737, 746 (2016), at 749, citing Republic v. CA, 335 Phil. 664 (1997), at 678.